Friday, August 3, 2012

Patina Means ... Color on Metal!

By ... Lori AKA Dashery!

Patina adds character to jewelry. It can be used to make a piece look antique or to bring out the details in a more modern creation. Some patinas come from adding a substance like wax or enamel to metal. Others are reactions between the metal and a chemical, which is called oxidation.

 Today we will look specifically at Liver of Sulfur. Liver of Sulfur comes in two forms - chunks like shown or a gel. Both literally stink!

Sulfur is what makes rotten eggs stink so even if you've
never heard of Liver of Sulfur, you know what it smells like. Phew!

I'm using stamped copper discs for this demonstration.

Liver of Sulfur works equally well on sterling silver or any other copper alloy - brass also looks great with this patina.

The first step in any method of oxidation is cleaning the metal.

I use powdered Bar Keepers Friend for this step ever since a fellow JET suggested it. It works great as does pickle or any degreasing cleanser.

Dry with a paper towel or soft cloth.

You can see the difference right away. This step does remove some of the shine from the metal but leaves it completely clean and free of grease, which could interfere with the even application of the patina.

To color your metal, you'll need a few chunks of Liver of Sulfur; a lidded glass or microwaveable container; a plastic spoon; and some very, very hot water that isn't boiling. Drop the chunks into the water and stir. In about a minute you'll have a solution ready for dunking.

You may have noticed that I didn't give you measurements. Well, here is the art part of this chemistry- sometimes you need more or less of the chunks.

In general, you'll need more Liver of Sulfur the older the chunks get because they lose potency when they are exposed to air, light, or heat.

Keep the chunk form sealed in its container and a zipper plastic bag someplace dark. The gel is a much more stable form; but that's not what I have.

Next, dunk it like a homemade cookie. What I mean by that is that it doesn't need to soak- you just need to put it in and take it out. Nothing fancy.

Rinse in cool water and dry with a paper towel.

If you want a darker color you can repeat but don't be surprised when some residue comes off when you dry- that's why you want to use a paper towel.

Another way to make it darker is to put the metal in the freezer for a few minutes before dunking. The change in temperature seems to give it a deeper color.

You'll see an immediate change in the color of your metal!

The photo at the bottom of this group shows the piece after it has been rinsed and dried. This fabulous color takes a long time to occur naturally but can be applied in just a few minutes.

When you are done, put the lid back on your container of Liver of Sulfur solution and store someplace out of the light. You can reuse the solution by microwaving it until it's hot again. Stir it every 15 seconds or so checking to see if it's hot enough. Make sure it doesn't boil!

Let me say that again- make sure it DOESN'T BOIL!

If you let it boil it will release a gas you shouldn't breathe-open every window and door as quickly as possible. Or just make new solution every time you need it.

Sand and Polish!
Finishing supplies- safety glasses,
sandpapers, polishing papers, wax
Now to finishing!

When you use the patina to bring out recessed details,
like the stars and moon stamping in my example.

You want contrast, so you'll want to sand away the high surface and leave the patina in the recessed areas.

I also used polishing papers to add extra shine!

This step brings back the shiny luster of the piece -
while making the stamped design really stand out.

Safety glasses are a must for this step, and a dust mask is also a good idea. Some of the surface patina you remove during the polishing process comes off as a very fine dust and it really doesn't belong in your lungs. Safety first ...

Look at that beautiful shine!

Tumble it!

Next you can put your piece in a tumbler with stainless steel shot, either in addition to sanding or in place of it. You'll get a more subdued finish if you skip the sanding step above.

Tumbling with shot leaves a nice warm brown color on the unsanded piece and leaves a nice shiny copper color on the sanded piece.

Actually, you get the warm copper color if you forget the tumbler is on in the garage and leave it going for a few more hours than you meant to!

Tumbling makes your metal harder and more durable ... overdoing it can't hurt!

TIP: You'll need to clean your shot if you plan on using it for items that aren't patinaed. Bar Keepers Secret works really well to scrub the shot.

Wax it!

To keep your patina looking new- or maybe that should be old- you need to seal your work.

I use Renaissance conservation wax. You cover the piece with a little wax, wait a minute, then buff it with a soft cloth.

This extra step will keep your patina the way you wanted it - so it won't darken over time.

The stamped design will remain darkened, while the copper takes on a fantastic glowing, deep shine. Beautiful!

Add a bail or jump ring and a cord and you have a completed necklace!

The disc on top was not sanded - just tumbled.

The disc below was sanded then tumbled.

The results depend on the steps you take!

Some beautiful use of Liver of Sulfur from the Jewelry on Etsy Team:

Thanks for reading! More Patina Techniques coming soon ...
-Lori from Dashery Jewelry on Etsy and


Erika Price said...

Beautiful work, Dash - thanks for the great tutorial!

Unknown said...

This was a wonderful tutorial, Dash! You should do a You Tube Video!!!

SendingLoveGallery said...

A wonderful post on oxidizing with LOS! and helpful tips on pre-finishing leading to different outcomes on the copper. Love the gorgeous patina/oxidized jewelry from Dashery and Jets, and thanks for including my necklace : )

Beadsme said...

Awesome tutorial. Thanks Dash.

Estate Watch & Jewelry said...

Amazing work!! Thanks for sharing.

TheSilverBear said...

I agree - an AWESOME blog, Dash. The photos are brilliant!

cserpentDesigns said...

Wonderful post!

MadeByTammy said...

This is awesome! Great job!

Unknown said...

Thanks guys!

Brooke said...

Great tutorial and finished necklaces, very informative. Thank you for including my necklace.

capitalcitycrafts said...

Thanks for the great info, and for featuring my earrings Lori!

Unknown said...

Well written tutorial, all the pics really help if this is your first time using LOS!! Can't wait for future installments!! The JET jewelry you featured is usual!!

Unknown said...

Great tutorial! The freezer is an excellent tip! Thank you for including my earrings too :)

Mollie Ann said...

Now this I call a Super Tute! Love the idea of using Bar Keepers Friend for the cleaning!

willowcreekjewelry said...

what a fantastic post with such great tips! thank you so much...I'm trying the Bar Keepers Friend tip = )

JillreOzmay said...

Fabulous! This is a great tutorial. Love the patina look. Thank you Lori!

Siany said...

gorgeous work, and such a useful step by step diy! thank you!